Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study: Looking back on year one

By Julie Ennis, PhD, Research Fellow

While progress continues to be made on many fronts for cancer prevention and treatment, cancer remains the leading cause of death in Canada. Those facing a cancer diagnosis often look to complement the conventional care they receive at the hospital in order to enhance treatment efficacy, reduce side effects, improve overall quality of life and prevent recurrence. Integrative oncology, which is standard practice in many European countries, is becoming more readily available to patients across North America. The Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre is actively engaged in research into the efficacy and safety of integrative oncology including evaluating individual therapies as well as the overall model of integrative cancer care. The Canadian/US Integrative Oncology Study (CUSIOS) is one of several research studies currently underway at the OICC.

CUSIOS is an observational study that will answer important questions related to the care of patients with advanced stage cancer who see Naturopathic Doctors across North America. The study aims to get a clear picture of the recommendations that are being made to patients with advanced stage breast, colorectal, prostate and ovarian cancers and will be able to look at whether there are differences across the national and provincial/state regulatory settings. Importantly, the study aims to understand the impact of these recommendations on survival of patients enrolled in the study in comparison to what is known from large cancer registries. The Canadian study sites are also looking further into the impact on quality of life.

Over the past year, CUSIOS has made great progress. The study has been rolled out in 7 clinics across North America and all locations are now actively recruiting participants. There has been a dramatic increase in enrollment over the past couple of months and we are well on our way to the target sample size of 400 patients. Julie Ennis, Research Coordinator for the Canadian sites, recently had the opportunity to visit two of the study sites in British Columbia, the Vital Victoria Naturopathic Clinic and the Integrated Health Clinic Cancer Care Centre in Fort Langley. These visits provided an opportunity to monitor and support the research operations and importantly to develop relationships with the site Principal Investigators (Dr. Neil McKinney, ND at VVNC and Dr. Gurdev Parmar at IHCCC) and study staff involved in supporting the CUSIOS study. In the coming months, there are plans for the next site visit to the Marsden Centre for Excellence in Integrative Medicine in Vaughan, Ontario (Principal Investigator, Dr. Eric Marsden). The Canadian and American study investigators recently had the opportunity to meet at the Oncology Association of Naturopathic Physicians Conference in Phoenix, Arizona. This gathering provided an opportunity for the NDs involved in the study to share their experiences and ideas to increase study enrollment. All involved in the study are very enthusiastic and look forward to seeing the results of this work. 

The research staff at the OICC would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the participants for their contribution to this research study. We are pleased to report that we have enrolled over 20 participants at the OICC site to date.  It truly would not be possible without you! If you have any questions about the study, please contact Julie Ennis, PhD at